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Clay Paky Sharpy Fixtures Help Deliver Powerful Message For “Stand Up to Cancer” Blockbuster Special
Lighting Designer
Allen Branton
Atomic Lighting
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USA – When the fourth biennial “Stand Up to Cancer” special aired in the US and Canada, it raised more than $109 million for its groundbreaking collaborative research efforts.  Some 60 Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures were deployed for the event.

More than three dozen broadcast and cable networks in the US and Canada telecast “Stand Up to Cancer.”  The show, staged at LA’s Dolby Theatre, featured celebrity guests, music by Lupe Fiasco, Jennifer Hudson and Common, The Who, the Dave Matthews Band, and Ariana Grande, and inspiring stories about patients who have benefited from the research supported by the organization.  Atomic Lighting of Lititz, Pennsylvania provided the Clay Paky fixtures.

“This show really means a lot to me,” says Brad Hafer, vice president of account management, at Atomic Lighting.  “‘Stand Up to Cancer’ is about something real – it’s not just done for ratings.  It made us all feel that we were contributing something to the cause.”

Allen Branton was the lighting designer for the special with Felix Peralta, Daniel K. Boland and Darren Langer the lighting directors. Peralta worked closely with Branton on the show design.  “We’ve been associated with ‘Stand Up to Cancer’ before; its message is a very powerful one and the show has high production values, but not flashy ones,” he explains.

The Sharpys were used as strong beam lights and for their Sharpy dappling technique, Peralta points out.  “Giant white walls acted as video projection surfaces, which we enhanced with accents of color or Sharpy dappling – treating the scenic pieces with the high-output fixtures to create a nice effect that you can’t get with a hard-edged light.  It was a big part of the look of the show.”

Since the special was “a strong, video-driven show,” Peralta teamed with Laura Frank, screens producer and media programmer, on the media canvas.  “She and I like to make sure the lighting and video stories come from the same center, that the transitions are the same, the color schemes complementary or matching,” he explains.  “When lighting and video play together both are much more powerful.”

Frank, who is the principal of Minneapolis-based Luminous FX, says Kurtis Kennington of Digital Flodur designed the media content creating “about a dozen looks for the show, plus the band.  The entire set was projection mapped so the environment was video driven.”  Looks included themes of science and technology to support certain speakers; the band was often accompanied by photomontages of cancer survivors. 

“The show was as much about lighting the people in the audience as those on stage,” says Boland.  “We made sure everyone was lit, the color temperature was fine.  During rehearsal we keyed at least six positions for the people making speeches and introducing the videos, including one on a round extension into the audience.”

Darren Langer, the floor lighting director, worked closely with Boland to ensure consistent exposure levels for the talent and the audience and a “polished” look, Peralta says.

Peralta himself was responsible for lighting the environment for the show, including the scenic pieces and architecture of the house.  He says production designer John Calkins partnered with Branton to create a “tasteful and powerful” environment that helped deliver the show’s strong message.

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, concluded, “This was a very important show for a lot of reasons and we were proud to be a part of it.  All the lighting professionals involved in this show are great talents and we always enjoy working with them.”

A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive North American distributor for Clay Paky.